Career Sabotage: Negative Influence from a Past Employer Part 2

So what should you do if your job search efforts are being sabotaged by former employer?

“When you get right down to it, you don’t know always know for sure who you can trust. There is simply too much at stake – your job, your income, your family’s well being – to leave to chance that your references are positive and accurate” says Heidi Allison, Managing Director of Allison & Taylor, Inc. ( a professional reference checking firm.

Ms. Allison states that about half of the references they investigate offer mediocre to downright negative input – often to the surprise and dismay of the clients. “People they believe will give them a good reference, frequently do not,” she says. “And the likelihood is that such references will continue to “poison the well” unless their negative input can be documented and addressed.”

Causing further aggravation, it is not uncommon for references to pass out inaccurate information. Dates and title of employment, the reason for the separation and salary information offered by references are sometimes provided in error, and it is (unfortunately) often assumed by potential employers that the job seeker is being dishonest.

The first step in counteracting such issues is to obtain third-party documentation, and Allison & Taylor, Inc. is up front with the people they call to check a reference. “When we call a reference, we simply state that we are calling to do employment verification and reference check on (name of client). Typically the reference assumes we are considering hiring that individual or we have been hired to check them out for a company that is considering hiring them. Under no circumstances do we ever disclose who has actually hired us to perform the reference check. This allows our client complete confidentiality and the ability to use our information in court should the need arise”.

Fortunately, there is recourse for those whose reference(s) have been documented as offering negative commentary about them. Cease-&-Desist letters or potential litigation may be appropriate tools in the hands of an employment attorney.

If you suspect that a reference may be sabotaging your chances for employment, the first step is to obtain documentation by a third-party company indicating exactly what they are saying. And, the sooner the better – a negative reference can plague you indefinitely. Identifying such a person and preventing any further damage caused by them will surely be one of the best investments you will ever make.

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